The growing presence of robotics in art, research, design, and construction has changed the way we practice and think through our tools. Since 2012, when the first ROB|ARCH conference was held, the role of robotics in creative practices and manufacturing industries has grown, shifted, and evolved. Robots are no longer a shiny novelty restricted to niche research proposals but are now a fundamental technical tool for interfacing between digital and physical worlds.
Even our understanding of what a robot can look like has evolved: the inter-disciplinary discourse that has emerged around digital fabrication machines and industrial arms now includes myriad robot morphologies, scales, and applications — think aerial machines for construction, choreographed robotic swarms in performance, millimeter-scale robots for medical applications. In some ways, we have witnessed our machines grow up along with the discipline; no longer restricted to the structured environments of research labs, they have entered the real world and taken their place within it.
Acknowledging the momentum of these shifts within our broader social, political, and environmental contexts, ROB|ARCH 2024 urges its community to reflect on this moment with a critical lens. We aim to create space for discussion across technical and critical discourses that welcomes a diverse group of researchers, artists, and thinkers in robotics and beyond.